Trout, natives on a high
  |  First Published: December 2011

This month should offer some tremendous fishing opportunities across the New England region. The wet Spring has kept rivers and streams topped up and the terrific season will promote plenty of fit, fighting fish.

The trout fishery continues to provide some of our best angling for years. I recently spent a few days guiding a client in the Ebor district and the fishing was well above average.

Browns and rainbows were willing to rise to the dry fly and down in the gorges and on the headwater streams, the fish were keen to respond to a drifted dry.

Stimulators and Humpies in sizes 12 and 14 continue to be the pick on the riffled runs. Where the flows are gentler and the fish a little more suspicious, I’ve been enjoying success with a Parachute Adams in size 14.

The key is to cover all water thoroughly because the fish are not holding station, but working throughout the stream.

Along the western bush streams, a beetle imitation is a wise choice this month. Foam beetle patterns will float all day and metallic green patterns in sizes 14 or even 16 work a treat.

An alternative option is the ever-reliable Red Tag in 14 fished dry or worked wet with a pinch of split shot 15cm above the fly.

I often tie my Red Tags with cheaper hackles so that after several drifts dry they sink and I can fish them wet. A couple of quick flicks false casting and I can move onto the next run and fish it dry again.

The constant stream flows mean the fish are in great condition and keen to hammer a fly or lure.

Lure flickers will enjoy the better flows allowing the use of Celtas or bibbed minnows.

In the shallower sections, tiny jig heads coupled to a feather or soft plastic will entice fish. Single jigs tend to foul up less than lures with trebles and can be manipulated with small darts and hops.

The Walcha region apparently has also been fishing well, with reports of nice browns from the upper stretches of the Cobrabald River.

Down around Woolbrook, on the Macdonald, you should find some well-conditioned rainbows along the willow holes. Hereabouts some of the larger water fishes well with lures as the Rebel Crawdad or Rapala CD 5 or CD 7 in rainbow trout.


Plenty of locals will be cheering at the opening of the Murray cod season.

Down in the gorge country I expect some great fishing over the next couple of months. In a recent issue I forecast we’d get a solid cicada hatch and this month will prove me right or wrong. Assuming I’m right, the popper fishing will be sensational.

With good water levels and plenty of feed I suggest you forget the finesse concept and stir the buggers up.

Early in the season I prefer oversized surface lures with heaps of action. Work tight against the tea tree and rock cover and pound the water.

The old Jitterbugs and Crazy Crawlers continue to be standby patterns. Jamie Flett’s magic Mudeye surface lures are also well respected across the New England and continue to account for plenty of cod.

As the day warms, you can still snaffle a fish or two in the shallow boulder runs wherever there is overhead cover.

In the deeper, gnarly holes I love Chatterbait-style lures. These things are pretty much snag proof and with the addition of a stinger hook will account for plenty of the cod this Summer.

The upper and middle reaches of the Namoi and Severn rivers are always hot spots.

Night fishing on regional dams such as Keepit, Chaffey and Pindari will also fire. Find the timbered stretches at the top end of these impoundments and work the cover with big lures.

Pindari can be susceptible to algal blooms so get in early for the better action.


To the east there have been concerns over the Macleay bass fishery. Rumours of leaks from the gold mining operations and substantial kills of catfish downstream have alerted the EPA to problems in water quality.

Investigations are continuing and I’ll try to keep readers up to date as further information comes to hand.

It seems difficult to comprehend that when it is illegal to cut down a tree within a major catchment we still wrestle with pollution from industry.

I worked at the Hillgrove complex for a year so I am familiar with the layout and proximity of settling ponds to the gorge. While I don’t necessarily advocate closing development in the headwaters, we should demand much tighter and regular monitoring of such facilities.

Reports from the lower stretches of the Macleay suggest that there are fit and healthy bass in numbers.

Around Sherwood Falls there have been reports of sizeable fish and undoubtedly these will be moving into the gorges over the next month. Hopefully any pollution will have not have residual effects and the fishing should pick up.

This is also my favoured month to bust a few mud puppies on the fly. An afternoon patrolling the margins with a couple of Woolly Buggers and the long wand provides terrific entertainment.

Occasionally I keep a few carp to bury in the veggie patch – they are awesome fertilizer and, no, the tomatoes don’t smell.

Hopefully Santa looks after us all this month and for fishos heading away, take care on the roads – you’ve a lifetime of angling to look forward to!

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